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What’s So Social about Sign-in?

August 26, 2008 at 1:51 pm by Christian Crumlish | In Design | 2

Signing into Buzz

Just recently I published a new pattern, Sign-in Continuity, to the
Yahoo! Design Pattern Library. It could be filed under “Engagement,” a
category we have internally but that hasn’t appeared yet here, but I
decided to put it in the “Social” category instead.

The pattern is about making sure that a user’s momentum isn’t robbed
when they want to participate in a community and have to be challenged
for their login credentials in order to sign their contribution. The
crux of the pattern is to preserve context and make sure the user is
inconvenienced as minimally as possible so that the continuity of the
experience is preserved.

This raises a legitimate question: What’s “social” about sign-in? I
have two reasons for classifying this pattern that way.

One is that signing-in is an act of claiming one’s identity in a
shared space. Identity is an important social pattern “parent” and we
have a number of patterns related to identity in the works.

The other is that social sites have evolved some new engagement
patterns (some positive, some negative) having to do with invitation,
sharing, organic growth, and levels of involvement, and in this
context signing in to participate plays a role.

This was, by the way, what we like to call a “peeve-driven” pattern. I
was trying to comment on a social object at Yahoo! site. (I won’t say
which one because the problem has since been fixed.) I was challenged
to sign in, which was fine, but once I presented my credentials, I was
returned to the site’s home page instead of to the comment box I had
been working on. Oh noes!

Sometimes, a poor user experience can help us identify an antipattern
(in this case, sign-in discontinuity or in the original Latin,
participatio interruptus) — and then the antipattern points the way to
the positive solution.

I’d also like to mention that my summer intern, Chris Hanrath,
completed this pattern and prepared it for publication. Chris also
spent a lot of the summer working on the pattern library site redesign
that I can’t wait to unveil. Stay tuned!

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[...] YUI has a new Interaction Pattern in their library [...]

Pingback by Some Web Development Links for You | Front End Book —
August 27, 2008 #


Did it bother you that you had to sign in to make a comment in the
first place? I don’t like signing in, its a nuisance. I guess if
you don’t sign in, you have to fill out a CAPTCHA, and thats even
more irritating.

Comment by TheCompanion — September 21, 2008 #

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